When the Aussie Spirit take the field for their inaugural season in the National Pro Fastpitch league next month, most of the players will know each other’s games inside out.
Most, but possibly not all.
Two US college pitchers were selected by the Spirit in the NPF draft to add depth to the pitching numbers.
With some of the Spirit players not joining the NFP until June, extra pitching depth was needed to reduce fatigue on pitchers during the 48-game season.
The draftees are Kaylee Carlson from Auburn University in Tennessee, and Kaitlin Lee from Ole Miss in Mississippi.
Carlson’s third-round selection made history as the Aussie Spirit made the right-hander their first-ever selection as a franchise.
Carlson has been outstanding for Auburn this season, with a 0.92 ERA that ranks as the lowest single-season total in program history. Her 1.48 career ERA is also a program best. Carlson is Auburn’s all-time record holder with 65 career victories in just three seasons.
For both players, being drafted by the Aussie Spirit gives them a chance to continue their softball careers if they sign with the Aussie Spirit. As Lee told local TV station WTVA, she had thought her career might be over.
“This is an incredible opportunity,” she said.
“It’s super humbling and incredibly exciting. I wasn’t looking forward to my senior year ending so now it’s just awesome to have another season to look forward to.”
The first selection in the fourth round, Lee becomes just the second player in Ole Miss history to be drafted in the NPF and the first under head coach Mike Smith.
“This is a proud papa moment for me right now,” Smith said. “This is my first professional player, so Kaitlin will always be part of those teams of firsts.
“I’m really excited for her. She’s demonstrated a lot of hard work, determination and grit to get here. She’s just a hard-nosed player and that kid deserves everything she’s getting right now.”
Lee is one of the greatest players in Ole Miss history, with six single-season school records set in 2017, including wins, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, appearances and starts.
The Aussie Spirit’s first NPF game is against the Beijing Eagles on May 19 at Missouri Western University.